I was home on Feb. 14 because my older girls didn’t have school due to President’s Day weekend and daycare was closed for my younger two. So I worked from home while my kids ran around the house, rode their Razors, made a pirate ship in the front yard and then waited eagerly as I strapped the 4-month-old baby to me in the Bjorn, threw the 21-month-old tornado into the stroller and shepherded them out the back gate and into town for a frozen yogurt treat.
My plan was to pick up filets at the local butcher and surprise the hubs with a yummy meal. Even though I hate Valentine’s Day, I still like to surprise him with something special (usually it’s just something sweet I’ve baked — never do I spend money on anything of no practical use and he knows I’ll punch him in the face if he strays from this agreement). However, I didn’t notice the guy behind the meat counter putting the Flinstone-esque double-cut filets into the butcher paper. So, basically, SEVENTY DOLLARS later, instead of just FIVE steaks I had TEN. I figured, well, we haven’t splurged in a while, and it couldn’t be much more than when we take the whole family out for pizza (I won’t break down the bill for you, just keep in mind that we walk to the restaurant and mommy and daddy enjoy a few libations). Although my children love to eat filet (because, frankly, who doesn’t?!), we were now going to be eating steak for who knows how many days straight. Lesson learned: Let the hubs buy the steak and stick to the sweet stuff. But I digress …
Once we got back to the house (after countless stares and comments from folks about how I really have my hands full with four kids — um, ya don’t say?!), it was laundry time. Unfortunately, that’s when I discovered the load I put in the dryer a few hours ago was still spinning. I was afraid to open the door because every single one of our bath towels was in that load. And … sure enough … it was still damp. Dryer fail. BOOOO. Now I was starting to feel guilty about that $70. Damnit! That’s also when I realized I needed to bake something sweet for dessert and, as luck would have it, the Cooking Channel was on. Or The Food Network. I forget which (does it really matter?). Either way, Marcela Valladolid was whipping up Churro Bites. And that’s when I knew what I was going to make. I had every ingredient, so I didn’t need to go to the store or buy anything special. And it was EASY. The most difficult part is the frying and that’s only because you have to really pay attention to the temperature of your oil. It also takes a bit of time to fry only six little pillows of Mexican doughnutty goodness at a time. You don’t even need a fryer, you can use a pot and candy thermometer and off you go.
(Recipe courtesy of Marcela Valladolid, “Mexican Made Easy”)
Vegetable oil, for frying (I used a whole bottle of Canola)
1 cinnamon stick
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 t sugar
1/2 t kosher salt
1 C flour
2 C granulated sugar (I used only 1.5 C and had leftovers, which I saved and used with the second batch I made)
1 T ground cinnamon
– For the churro dough: Heat 2 inches oil to 350 degrees F in a wide 3 1/2 to 4-quart heavy pot over high heat.
– For the cinnamon sugar: Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.
– In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1 C water and the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Discard the cinnamon stick. Add the butter, sugar and salt and stir until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Turn off the heat. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in the flour until it is well combined and a shiny dough forms. Return the pan to medium-heat and cook the dough, stirring, until it starts to pull away from the sides of pan, about 2 minutes. Transfer the dough to a medium bowl and let cool, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition, until the egg is completely incorporated (the dough will be sticky).
**NOTE: I saw comments from others that they used only two or three eggs because their batter would have ended up super runny. I used four eggs the first time (I think because they were smaller) and only three eggs the second time. Use your best judgment, but know that you’re going to be cutting the batter as it comes out of the plastic bag, so you the consistency of the dough should be fairly thick.
– Transfer the dough to a pastry bag (I used a gallon Ziplock bag) and pipe 1-inch pieces, cutting the dough with scissors every inch, into the hot oil. Fry the churro bites, 6 at a time, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. Return the oil to 350 degrees F between batches.
**NOTE: I never needed to wait to return my oil to 350 because it was always at 350-360 (and 360 is OK, just don’t go beyond that or you’ll end up with super crispy outside and raw inside).
Here’s what they look like while frying:
– Roll the warm churro bites in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and serve.
**NOTE: I rolled the churro bites in the cinnamon-sugar mixture once I added my new batch of bites to the oil. The bites must still be quite warm in order for the cinnamon sugar to stick to the dough.
I didn’t make a dipping sauce for this because I didn’t have cream or Mexican chocolate in the house and I had already ventured out once with the kids in tow and it’s physically impossible for me to go to our grocery store with all of them because the carts and aisles are too small. I’m not kidding and I’m not being a wimp, I promise. It’s just my reality at this moment in my life. Plus, I knew my hubby wouldn’t care for it, anyway. But if you do want to make it, you’d need:
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
2 (3.2-ounce) disks Mexican chocolate, chopped
– Bring the heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until completely dissolved. Serve warm as a dipping sauce for the churro bites.
These are scrumptious.
Kids ate them as fast as I made them. I was happy. The hubs was happy. We were all very much in dessert bliss. And when I made them a second time, I pulled a few to the side and sprinkled some Cayenne on them (on top of the cinnamon-sugar). Oh. My. Goodness. Will definitely be making them that way for the adults next time around! And I can’t wait to try adding pumpkin spice.
These are a keeper and have been added to my Sweet board on Pinterest.
Are you a fan of Valentine’s Day? Do you have a favorite dessert to make?